In his previous line of work as the frontman of London punk stalwarts Gallows, Frank Carter’s primal shirtless aggression and fearsome stage presence gained him a reputation as somewhat of a raging maniac. Needless to say, Frank Carter is not what you would call the ideal candidate for anthemic stadium rock.
This, however, is exactly what his new band, Pure Love, serves up in spades on their debut album, the aptly-titled Anthems. The cohort provide strut-worthy, good time rock and roll, with hooks that would snag Moby Dick clean out of the briny deep, and harmonized ‘woah-ohs’ to make a legion of Springsteen fans swoon. Carter seems to have calmed the animalistic rage which once fuelled his art, proclaiming “I’m so sick of singing about hate” on ‘Bury My Bones’, but still maintains the passion which can so easily be lost when aggression is toned down. Even in the albums more tender moments, on tracks like ‘Heavy Kind of Chain’ and ‘Anthem’, the music burns more slowly, but Carter’s conviction remains ever-present.
However, such a foregrounded vocal performance is essentially the defining quality, and problem, with this album. Initially, it’s easy to forget that there’s a band playing behind Carter’s gargantuan-sounding vocals, but by the time a track like ‘Handsome Devil’s Club’ rolls around, and the listener is used to Carter’s voice, the band’s range of sounds become tiresome and repetitive. Although Pure Love were never going to re-invent the wheel, what starts as fresh-sounding rock album turns into a samey collection of songs held together by a fantastic vocal performance.
words: George Wright